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Republican Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (LifeSiteNews) — Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed into law on Tuesday the Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act, guaranteeing parents’ rights to be informed of and have final say over decisions impacting their children’s health, education, and upbringing.

The bill affirms that “[a]ll parental rights are exclusively reserved to a parent of a child without obstruction by or interference from a government entity,” including in the areas of “upbringing,” “moral or religious training,” and “all physical and mental healthcare decisions.” 

It specifies that these rights entail access to “all health and medical records” as well as education records, the “right to choose public, private, religious, or home schools,” the ability to excuse children from school for religious purposes, participation in parent-teacher associations and other school organizations, to be kept informed of educators’ suspicions of abuse or neglect, and more.

“A public employee, other than law enforcement personnel, shall not encourage or coerce a child to withhold information from the child’s parent,” the law further says. “A public employee shall not withhold from a child’s parent information that is relevant to the physical, emotional, or mental health of the child.”

News 4 JAX notes that the new law, which Lee signed without public comment, forbids facilitating abortion or mutilating “gender transition” interventions on a minor without parental consent.

“Parents have a right to be involved with their daughters’ wellbeing. The abortion industry has no right to keep parents in the dark at a time when their daughters are so vulnerable and could possibly be in danger,” Tennessee Right to Life President Stacy Dunn said.

“Parents love and know their child best, and they have the right and duty to direct the upbringing and care of their children. Yet parental rights have been eroded by government actions that exclude parents from critical educational and health care decisions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Matt Sharp. “This legislation restrains government overreach by reaffirming the role of parents to guide the upbringing, education, and health care of their children. It ensures that parental rights are given the same level of legal protection afforded other fundamental rights, like free speech and religion.”

The indoctrination of children with left-wing ideology on sexuality and other leftist agenda items has long been a major concern in American public schools, from libraries to athletic and restroom policy to drag events to classroom materials to even “transitioning” troubled children without parental input.

Pro-LGBT and pro-abortion activists commonly decry parental-involvement protections, but the danger of keeping parents in the dark about such developments is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school, supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself in 2019 after trying to live as a man for three years.

As for abortion, such rules stop the practice from being used by sexual abusers to cover up and continue their crimes, sometimes with Planned Parenthood’s knowledge and cooperation.

The Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act reinforces another law Tennessee enacted last month directly criminalizing the facilitation of underage abortions without parental consent. This year, Lee has also signed measures requiring fetal development information in public schools and allowing government employees to refuse to preside over homosexual “marriages.”